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Meeting Mastery - Optimize your Weekly Status Meeting...or, Cancel it Completely!

If you were told there was a way to easily optimize your weekly status meetings, or, cancel them completely, would you believe it? Wait, you don't need to answer that...😅 The fact you're here reading this says it all. If you're managing a remote or hybrid team, and still running synchronous daily or weekly standup calls, 👏👏👏👏 you deserve a shout out, because as you probably know all too well, the weekly habit you once swore by in the office, has now turned into something both you and your team members dread. We want to take you from meeting mayhem to meeting mastery by sharing some practical ways for how you can optimize your status meeting!

But, before we do that, let's cover a few quick basics.

The Purpose of a Status Update Meeting

Most people spend their time sitting in these meetings, unengaged, and without fully understanding their purpose. Typically, status meetings are among the most common reasons teams gather and one of the most recurrent team meetings in calendars worldwide. Essentially, a status meeting involves sharing information on the status of a particular task or project, whether it is with the team, cross-departmental or between two team members. The purpose is simple, they improve visibility, and promote better collaboration and communication among teams. There can be a deeper purpose of status review meetings in project management or any other departmental meeting, but they all are held essentially for the same reason. These meetings offer members the opportunity to discuss their progress, problems, and barriers that impact other team members' work.

Types of Status Meetings

Before making decisions on how to optimize your status meetings, you'll need to identify the type you're running. Here are two of the more common ones:

Scrum project status meeting

The scum project status meeting is a valuable part of planning for the project manager as it allows them to effectively monitor the progress on a project. During the duration of it, team members share an update on the progress of their assigned task to another person or their entire team. The scrum project status meeting is focused on learning about the progress on a set of tasks and not the general goal of the entire project.

Status meetings in agile

If you're unfamiliar with the term Agile, it's essentially a methodology that encourages breaking a project into smaller development cycles called sprints. As the word suggests, an agile meeting enables team members to collaborate and work together at a high-speed. Therefore, running a status update meeting in agile needs to be quicker and more efficient than regular status update meetings.

Project Status Meeting

As a project status meeting is a bit more involved than a regular check-in update, it will require more time and attention. However, with that being said, the ideal way to run them isn't always synchronously. Through asynchronous discussions, collaborators on a particular project can pop into the project status meeting template and directly add in their thoughts, feedback, and opinions. The purpose of these meetings is to deep dive into the status of each aspect of the project.

What should be discussed in the project status meeting?

Aside from project updates and roadblocks encountered, you should use project status meetings to discuss timings and task owners. Team members must prepare themselves ahead of time and gather particular facts and data to answer crucial questions to ensure the meeting is effective.

Project status meeting invitation sample

If you're running your status project update meeting asynchronously, the best way to loop in your team is by creating a status update meeting agenda and inviting them to it. It's as easy as that!

The Most Optimal Status Update Meeting Format

A typical status update meeting shouldn't last longer than 30-45 minutes and, ideally, shouldn't have more than ten attendees. However, for distributed teams, not even their status update meetings are 'typical' and therefore, running one as if they were in the office would be highly inefficient.

In the virtual space, these types of quick update meetings can be held either synchronously (via Zoom or other online platforms), or asynchronously, using asynchronous collaboration tools. If you want to build the habits of highly successful remote teams than the best way to format your update meetings is asynchronously.

With check-in tools, you can see, it takes less than 5 min to update your team. Plus, thanks to integrations with Slack and Microsoft teams, you can easily push those updates into shared chats so team members can review them in their own time.

Getting your team on board - How do I start a status update meeting asynchronously?

Before scheduling a status update meeting, all parties involved should be notified beforehand and receive the meeting agenda in advance so they have time to prepare. As the name suggests, these meetings are set to give updates, and with the growing number of meetings set each week, it's essential to use the time well and not overdo it.

Status Meeting Best Practices

Maintaining a focus on participant involvement and meeting efficiency is fundamental to leveraging status update meetings as an important communication channel for your team. To ensure that you run time-conscious and effective status update meetings, here are some of the best practices for effective status meetings that you can adapt to your meetings.

Always set a meeting agenda

Setting a meeting agenda will help you take a step back to reflect on what has to be discussed and realise if the meeting you're about to set is really necessary. Define the general topic and a time for each team member to share an update on their status. Don't forget to leave space for action items. Aside from helping you conduct the meeting, the meeting agenda can also be used to take notes. You can then share these once the session is over so that everyone is aligned and those that couldn't attend are on track.

Engage the team

Those team members with a minor role or who have less to share might lose interest in meetings faster. To make sure that they stay in the loop and are active in the discussion, encourage them to speak up, share their feedback or even take notes of the meeting. One of the best ways to engage quieter members of the team is by running your meetings async and having members add written updates.

Set a time

Meetings aren't exactly exciting, and as a general rule, humans don't have a long attention span. For this reason, it's essential to set a timer and stick to it. A status update meeting is not a standup meeting nor a brainstorming session, which is why, ideally, it should take between 15 to 45 minutes...that is if you are meeting synchronously. If you're running your meeting async, you can slash this in half.

Signs your status update meeting format is not working

It wasn't until we all had to work from home that we realised how many meetings we attend every week, leading many to fatigue and burnout. Do you feel like your team members aren't motivated about status update meetings anymore? Aren't they as engaged or don't come as prepared as before?

These are some signs that the way you're running your status update meetings isn't ideal and it's time to switch up your approach, or even cancel them forever 🤯.

  • Poorly created agendas or no meeting agenda whatsoever
  • Unprepared team members
  • Meeting runs for too long, and that go off-topic.
  • Not getting feedback from other team members.
  • Not structuring actions points correctly at the end of the meeting
  • Not taking meeting minutes

Run Effective Status Meetings

If you've tried many ways of optimising your status update meeting but haven't found a way to make it work, it might be that the format isn't working for you. If this is the case, trial out running asynchronous status update meetings instead.

Most optimal status meeting — Asynchronous

An asynchronous meeting allows team members to pitch in and share their updates at their own time. Instead of sitting in a meeting room or joining a zoom call, asynchronous status update meetings don't have a meeting time but have a specified deadline to pitch in.

Meeting minutes tools enable remote teams to create fast check-ins, engage in real-time textual asynchronous conversations, and prepare meeting agendas and meeting minutes for video conferencing meetings. On top of that, you can track tasks and personal and collective progress toward a joint team objective. Perfect for a status update meeting!

Status Meeting Agenda Template

Whether you prefer to run a synchronous or asynchronous meeting, you can use async discussions to optimize both. You can work off a meeting agenda template or one of our many status meeting examples to help you run an optimized, efficient, and engaging asynchronous status meeting.